Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tashi Dorji - Improvisations for Guitar (Headway Recordings, 2012)

Bhutanese guitarist Tashi Dorji is an exceptional musician, and a multi-instrumentalist who happens to excel on guitar. Live you can expect either an intense avant garde onslaught of Derek Bailey style electric or beautiful experimentations mostly on the acoustic, which is what is presented on this cassette release.

Over the course of about forty minutes, Dorji runs the gamut of his instruments possibilities. From pastoral pieces to John Fahey-inspired americana to Indian raggas to stabbing primal aggression. All of this is provided with a constant sense of grace and humility.

In the new school of experimental guitarists, Dorji fits well alongside Bill Orcutt and Glenn Jones.

Purchase the cassette here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Herman Poole Blount, AKA Sun Ra

"Not to be confused with the Egyptian god Ra", says the Wikipedia entry. Its quite difficult not to confuse this legendary figure with a god.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914, Sun Ra always pushed the limits musically. He did it all. Sometimes he'd play piano / keyboard solos, sometimes he'd be with a traditional quartet doing ragtime, swing, or bebop. I was always fond of the bizarre free jazz sounds and vocal incantations that seemed to conjure aliens from what he seemed to think was his home planet.

Beyond the jazz music, he was also one of the first artists to incorporate experimentation with electronic keyboards. In the black and white video below, its shocking when you suddenly hear that virtual sound. It creates a confusion in your mind, a sort of retro-futurist synesthesia.

Until his death in 1993, he continued to play as often as possible and just got further and further out. The bandleader Marshall Allen has kept the Sun Ra Arkestra going. To this day, you can go see them perform and still feel the spirit of the great otherworldly one himself.

"I'm playing dark history. It's beyond black. I'm dealing with the dark things of the cosmos." 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Padang Food Tigers - Ready Country Nimbus (Bathetic Records, 2012)

This record is so relaxing that I feel its actually in the bath with me, so meditative that it seems to have become a part of my breathing, and so reflective that it could never be background music. What is most striking is that it never fails to lose the aesthetic of pure art.

 Absolute beauty shrouds this release by two thirds of the drone folk project "Rameses III". The duo intertwines processed field recordings, acoustic guitar, bells and a divine sounding banjo, always in the driver's seat on this recording. What in the beginning sounds like it could be background music quickly draws the listener into a thorough introspection.

 I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. This album has been the first effective tool in remedying that situation. The pastoral instrumentation drones alongside chirping birds and children playing, creating an avant garde sound that actually comes across as accessible.

 Padang Food Tigers has been released on Bathetic Records. You can listen / purchase the LP HERE and it is available in the itunes store.